Cairo - Cairo

Year of Release: 1994
Label: Magna Carta
Catalog Number: MA-1081-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 53:39:00

Maybe radio would prefer something away from the prog-metal sound, something a bit softer sounding like Cairo's self-titled debut. While Cairo are more akin to late-period Yes and early ELP - a comparison sure to keep them off radio - they are no stranger to the Dream Theater influence, either. This is especially evident on the third track "Silent Winter" - which is also the most hook laden of the six tracks.

Not only have Cairo used Yes and ELP as their influence, they have used particular albums by these two bands - Yes's 90125 and ELP's Tarkus.

Opening with a fanfare more in line with the conclusion of a composition, the all instrumental "Conception" starts off with a simple guitar riff, harmonizing with the keys. Drums are in there, too, but unlike some of their label mates, they don't dominate the mix.

"Seasons of the Heart" begins energetically with bright keyboard trills that begin a minute and half long intro, which itself goes through a few transitions, before the song proper begins.

Bret Douglas' vocals are thin here, contrasted with the instrumentation. He sounds, however, at turns, like Max Bacon and Jon Anderson. This particular track could easily have come off of 90125.

In fact, there is something very late 80s about Cairo - they could have been played next to Glass Tiger or Honeymoon Suite for example - "Seasons" is evidence alone.

The progressive rock genre has been called many things, including pompous. Taking an objective view, the critics aren't necessarily wrong.

While "Silent Winter" is a likable and listenable track, it very well could be called pompous. The main conceit is there in the title - the p.o.v character's life is like a "silent winter" without his lover. There is nothing here to indicate a deeper meaning, where the lost lady is mother Earth itself (cf. "Take It Back" - Pink Floyd or, without the metaphor, "Seasons End" - Marillion).

So where does the ELP comparison come in? Well the keyboard based beginning of "Between The Lines" is nearly identical to ELP's "Eruption" (which leads off Tarkus). Perhaps it this ELP influence that gives this track a bit more punch, a bit more drive, than the earlier tracks. The last track, "Ruins at Avalon's Gate", continues the "Eruption"sound.

Like Altura, this band would do well to break free of being so dependent on their influences. This is a pleasant album to listen to, if highly derivative.

[When I first published this review in 1997, it was part of a larger context relating to my editorial published at the same time, thus the radio references - SS]

Conception (2:10) / Season Of The Heart (10:13) / Silent Winter (8:25) / Between The Lines (9:25) / World Divided (10:16) / Ruins At Avalon's Gate (22:35)

Mark Robertson - keyboards, synthesizers, Hammond organ, grand piano
Jeff Brockman - drums and electronic percussion
Alec Fuhrman - guitars and vocals
Bret Douglas - lead vocals
Rob Fordyce - bass and vocals

Cairo (1994)
Conflict and Dreams (1998)
Time Of Legends (2001)

Genre: Symphonic Prog

Origin US

Added: April 5th 1997
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1762
Language: english


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